May 20 – Memorial for St. Bernadine of Siena, Priest
Bernadine (1381-1444) was a Friar Minor, a priest, an itinerant preacher, and a theological writer. His preaching skills were so great, and the conversions so numerous, that he has become associated with all areas of speaking, advertising, public relations, etc.
Bernadine’s charismatic preaching filled the piazze of Italian cities. Thousands of listeners flocked to hear him and to participate in dramatic rituals, which included collective weeping, bonfires of vanities, and exorcisms. He was a renowned peacemaker, in the Franciscan tradition, who tried to calm feuding clans and factions in the turbulent political world of the Renaissance. His preaching visits would often culminate in mass reconciliations, as listeners were persuaded to exchange the bacio di pace, or kiss of peace.
Bernadine was sensitive to the demands of secular life, and tried to negotiate between Christian ethics and a conflicting code of honour that stressed retaining face in a public world. He argued that the catalyst of civil discord in the urban setting was malicious gossip, which led to insults, and, too often, vendetta by aggressive males. His surprising allies in his peacekeeping mission were the women who comprised the majority of his audience.
- Patron Saint Index
Eventually with the connivance of the authorities a move was made by pagans as well as Jews to make attacks on the apostles and to stone them. When the apostles came to hear of this, they went off for safety to Lycaonia where, in the towns of Lystra and Derbe and in the surrounding country, they preached the Good News.
A man sat there who had never walked in his life, because his feet were crippled from birth; and as he listened to Paul preaching, he managed to catch his eye. Seeing that the man had the faith to be cured, Paul said in a loud voice, ‘Get to your feet – stand up’, and the cripple jumped up and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in the language of Lycaonia, ‘These people are gods who have come down to us disguised as men.’ They addressed Barnabas as Zeus, and since Paul was the principal speaker they called him Hermes. The priests of Zeus-outside-the-Gate, proposing that all the people should offer sacrifice with them, brought garlanded oxen to the gates. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening they tore their clothes, and rushed into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, what do you think you are doing? We are only human beings like you. We have come with good news to make you turn from these empty idols to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that these hold. In the past he allowed each nation to go its own way; but even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself in the good things he does for you: he sends you rain from heaven, he makes your crops grow when they should, he gives you food and makes you happy.’ Even this speech, however, was scarcely enough to stop the crowd offering them sacrifice.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him.’
Judas – this was not Judas Iscariot – said to him, ‘Lord, what is all this about? Do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied:
‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own:
it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.’
Even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself
Recently, I’ve been thinking about how God reveals our vocation to us – his unique call for each one of us, which is the easiest way to sainthood. One of the points that I’ve read is that the call keeps coming back. The call is something that is consistent. That call, however, is not always loud and clear – but its presence is undeniable. It is like air, barely noticeable but it’s there.
This is very assuring. God doesn’t leave us to ourselves even though we are not always with him. I was fortunate enough to have a vivid experience of this during my birthday this year. And it left me crying tears of joy!
During my birthday, God took me on a journey from the day I was born. I have always known that God was always present in my life but I have always pictured him somewhere at a short distance from me, like a parent watching a kid play in the playground. However, he showed me that we was not just watching over me, he was really beside me as I went through the ups and downs of my life. God made sure that I saw him present in the different stages of my life. I would like to share with you God’s account of my birth because I think this is similar to all of us. I would like to invite you all, if I may, to close your eyes and imagine the day you were born and as you are growing up. Imagine God saying this:
I was there when you were born. I waited nine months for this day. I was so happy to hear you cry. I told your guardian angel to take very good care of you. I told her you are so beautiful.
When I saw your first smile, it melted my heart. Your giggles were adorable.
When you first made the sign of the cross, I was so happy. Finally, you were calling me.
When you took your first steps, I was waiting at the end. I hoped you will always walk towards me.
I was there when you were praying. I was there during your first confession.
I was there when you were feeling so sad. I whispered to you, ‘I will never leave you.’ I’m glad you heard me.
Throughout this day, I would like to invite you all to reflect on where God is in your life. I hope you see him literally beside you, and not just someone watching over you. I hope you see him feeling your joys, and pain. I hope you see how happy he is whenever you give him a bit of your attention.
He has given you signs and proof that he is just there for you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, please help me always feel your presence in my life. Do not let me forget that you are beside me, with my guardian angel.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for staying with me, and for being happy that I exist.